This movie has some amazing parts, but mostly mediocrity.
In 1983, a mysterious beam from outer space gave superpowers to random people, but only those who were genetically predisposed to sociopathy. These people are dubbed Miscreants. In the present, Lydia Berman (Melissa McCarthy) is the former best friend of billionaire geneticist Emily Stanton (Octavia Spencer). When meeting with Emily for their high-school reunion, Lydia accidentally gets injected with Emily’s newest creation, a serum that can give normal people super strength. Emily, meanwhile, has given herself invisibility. Together with their advisor Allie (Melissa Leo) and Emily’s daughter Tracy (Taylor Mosby), the two become the superhero duo Thunder Force. They’re out to fight against the forces of the Miscreants Crab (Jason Bateman) and Laser (Pom Klementieff), led by their boss The King (Bobby Cannavale).
So, this marks the fifth movie in which Melissa McCarthy has been directed by her husband Ben Falcone. Almost all of those movies have been mediocre and relied too much on awkward humor, strange metaphor breaks, and hoping that McCarthy’s unbelievable charisma can power through the low periods (to her credit, she almost can). Unfortunately, the movies, while they often contain a number of very funny scenes, usually don’t seem to hold up when viewed as a whole. This is no exception to that. About 20 minutes of this movie is fall-down-laughing funny. The rest of it ranges from mildly amusing to a complete whiff.
The best parts of this movie, hands down, are the scenes with Jason Bateman. It’s not even because of Bateman himself as much as how well he and Melissa McCarthy play off of each other. They’re both doing the same kind of subdued awkward humor, really almost anti-humor, and they both do it so well that it becomes absolutely hilarious. The fact that one is a superhero and one is a supervillain only makes it that much better. Some other good scenes are when McCarthy and Spencer are really just being themselves and palling around as opposed to trying to be superheroes. The scenes of Melissa McCarthy fighting are actually pretty great, because they make her a physical powerhouse despite her not looking like a traditional superheroine (a thing that is already ridiculous because superpowers don’t require you to actually be ripped to be strong).
The pacing in the film is not great, but the forced stupidity of the characters is probably its greatest weakness. The film exaggerates and drags out the “training” and origin story phases, but doesn’t do anything particularly original or entertaining with them, beyond a few small laughs. The villain is brought in and proceeds to be the absolute dumbest human being imaginable and somehow the heroes take almost no reasonable steps to stop him. Despite apparently being a secret mastermind at first (which would make his villainy a twist if the trailer didn’t feature it), The King actually walks in and tells the heroes his plan. AFTER THEY FOIL A SINGLE ROBBERY OF A MINI-MART. They don’t even have a reason to suspect that there IS a boss of supervillains. He then states that no one would believe them if they tried to go to the police. Except, they’re superheroes that don’t wear masks, make public appearances, and Emily is a billionaire and a public figure already. They have a LOT of credibility. Even if the police didn’t believe them, they should still have reported him and they could easily have just testified to the public that The King is a criminal. Instead, both sides just keep tossing the idiot ball back and forth so that the plot doesn’t get resolved until the end.
Overall, it’s almost worth watching for the 20 minutes of amazing comedy, but the rest of the film is hard to get through at points.
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